First Tactical Tactix 1-Day Plus Backpack Review
MOLLE Day pack with versatile compartments
From a distance the First Tactical Tactix 1-Day Plus looks like pretty much any other MOLLE daypack – webbing systems along the vertical surfaces, zipped compartments and compression straps. I admit to having a bit of a prejudice towards MOLLE packs. The MOLLE/PALS system (Modular Light Load carrying Equipment) works well with small packs and pouches, and is great for quickly changing the gear carried on say, body armour or a tactical vest. It doesn’t work as well when it comes to carrying heavy loads on your back over long distances – that’s still very much the territory of the ‘hiking’ pack shape with waist belt, adjustable shoulders and one or two main compartments for carrying everything inside.
I’m never going to use a big MOLLE pack for overnight trips in the mountains or the forest – but I have been looking for something versatile and strong for another use….
Over the years I have acted as a location manager/scout/safety/technical advisor for several TV, film and photography projects. I also do a little work as a photographer and videographer and the traditional outdoor packs don’t always work well with lots of small, expensive bits of kit that need to be kept organised and easily accessible. Will the First Tactical Tactix 1-Day Plus backpack be up to the task?
First impressions of this pack are very positive. Rather than using nylon webbing stitched to the outside of the pack for the MOLLE system they have used laser-cut panels that both reduce weight and the possibility of snagging without seeming to have compromised the strength and usability. All of the buckles, zips and adjusters are robust and operate freely without snags.
As expected with this type of pack there are several compartments, each of which is dived into sub-compartments in a few different ways. Starting just behind the shoulder straps is zipped access to a large, thin space which is about right for a 17” laptop. At the bottom of this space is another (protected) zip that can be opened for carrying “oversized tactical gear”. A rifle case can just about be carried without snagging, and hooks inside stop anything from falling through, and a couple of small pouches offer a little more storage. I didn’t have a need to carry a rifle or other piece of “tactical gear” during my review period, but it did work well transporting light stands and rolled-up light reflectors on a location shoot.
Moving forward there is a soft pouch for sunglasses, phone (or GoPro in my case) next to the main grab handle.
The main compartment is surprisingly big and opens up entirely with a two-way zip and can be laid entirely flat quite quickly. The back panel is covered in the same soft fabric as the small pouch above, and there are two wand pockets on the inside of the vertical sides. On the inside of the ‘lid’ of this compartment are four zipped pockets. Two fabric ones at the base are permanently fixed and two netting pouches are attached by hook-and-loop panels. This is a feature I didn’t know I needed in my life – being able to just grab the entire pouch and take it away without having to go searching in the main compartment.
Next up is a small pouch with a zip (big enough for a large smartphone or a GPS), and under that is an almost hidden pocket accessed by a horizontal zip. It is listed on the specs as a CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) and has a small hook/loop patch inside for attaching a holster or pouch. As I don’t have a weapon to carry, concealed or otherwise, I used it to store an Android tablet. If the intention is for this pocket to remain hidden then it does the job – more than once I forgot that pocket was there and spent a moment or two wondering where the hell I had put my tablet…
Finally there is a large admin pouch/storage area at the very front of the pack. This has the usual set of pouches, zipped dividers and a clip for keys etc. There is also a detachable webbing keyring and an ID panel on the inside and more of the Lynx laser cut webbing and a loop panel on the outside.
Two compression straps on the outside stop it from flapping around when empty and a surprisingly useful grab handle is on either side of the back system.
Let’s talk about that back system. Rather than relying on just a board or even plastic struts there is a contoured plastic panel. It’s held in place with hook/loop fasteners and can be fully removed. It’s also apparently able to be used as a splint, snow shovel or even a paddle. I didn’t have the opportunity to try it out but it’s nice to know it’s there – you never know when you are about to have a really bad day where you need to paddle down a river after breaking your arm in an avalanche… (this kind of thing isn’t that unusual in military/tactical kit though, and I know of a few ski/snowboard packs that use a similar idea)
The shoulder straps each have a quick release under the contoured foam padding and an adjustable chest strap. The back system is adjustable for different back lengths and chest sizes, and there is allowance made for a waist belt.
Putting it to use in the field
I’ve had three main uses for this pack since I received it for review.
The first has been as a general photography kit bag. In this role it works well enough, with a bias more towards rucksack than lens bag due to the way the internal system divides up and lack of padding for lens and DSLR body. But for simple shoots (landscape with tripod and filters, product and portrait shoot with off-camera flash and videography/VLOG stuff) it has more enough room for my kit with some spare for a jacket.
Next has been as a commute/city bag for a couple of trips to London for meetings with clients who prefer offices and coffee shops to damp Welsh forests and open mountainside. Swapping lenses and lights for notepads and laptops didn’t really push the boundaries of the pack, but secure zips, straps and sturdy fabric is reassuring when running around London and the Underground. This is where I appreciated the side grab handles – by their very nature MOLLE packs tend to extend out horizontally from the spine rather than going up and down and I would have made myself quite unpopular on a rush-hour tube if I had chosen to keep it on my back. The loose shoulder straps and side handles made transition from back to hand smooth and simple, and they came easily to hand when the time came to grab it and fight my way to the door at the next station.
The most testing use was during a couple of weeks of location scouting then production for commercials for a big 4WD/SUV manufacturer. I was tasked with finding suitable locations, negotiating landowner permissions and then acting as a combination location manager/safety/local fixer during the shoots themselves. For the First Tactical Tactix 1-Day Plus bag this meant being stuffed with notes, maps, GPS, tablet, binoculars, DSLR, clothing, food and other kit and then being repeatedly grabbed, worn, dragged through bushes and over rocks then thrown back into the back of the truck and driven elsewhere. This is where I really began to appreciate the design and construction of the bag. There is a sensible split between the main compartment, admin compartment and other pouches and it was easy enough to get to binoculars or GPS when I needed them quickly.
It’s also performed duties as a general admin/photography bag on various bushcraft, expedition and survival courses this summer and shows no sign of wear as of yet.
The back system works, but there is a handle/crossbar thing between the shoulder straps that can’t be adjusted. The shape and proportions of the shoulder foam mean that this sits comfortably behind the neck. But if you have a big chest or long torso (I have both, 6’2”, 50” chest, 38” waist) then the only way to carry it comfortably is for the bag to hang down low on the back. The contoured back panel fitted against my back quite well, but I suspect the possible combinations of shoulder strap length, adjustment and back contour won’t suit everybody.
I note a few other reviewers have had problems with the bag being uncomfortable after a few hours of carrying – but I can’t say that I’ve had a problem. Long days trudging around London with several kgs of kit were fine, and I’m much more sued to carrying packs with a proper waistbelt.
A complaint I have about the layout of the storage pouches and compartments is common to most MOLLE bags though, not specific to the First Tactical range – it’s easy to lose stuff. With so many possible places to put stuff and divide your equipment it’s quite tempting to split it all up between each of the pouches. Did I put my torch in the admin pouch or the top pocket? Are the spare batteries in the top bit or in with the lens cloths? Regular repeated use will smooth all of that out but if you’re used to having the-drybag-with-the-camera-stuff-in-it and the-drybag-with-the-gloves-and-spare-clothing system then it can feel a bit too specific. More than once I had to pat-down the bag to find something, or discovered a bit of tripod or one of those weird GoPro mounts buried in one of those pockets when looking for a pen somewhere in a London coffee shop. Worth noting if you don’t want to discover you have a multitool or folding knife in the bag when you head towards airport security…
I like it. I didn’t think I would, but I do. I have other MOLLE bags and have tried to use them in different environments but they mostly end up being used either for camera kit or as a big medical pack. This is the first MOLLE pack that I have chosen over a small hiking rucksack or shoulder bag.
The work that Original Outdoors does is quite diverse and to be honest a lot of what we do isn’t listed on the website and doesn’t make it to social media or our blog – but this bag has done well. It shows dust and dirt and forest debris, but the fabric and stitching is solid and the zips, buckles and adjusters work as well as they did on the first day.
I admit that I don’t use all of the small pouches and pockets, but the main compartments are all of a decent size and so far I haven’t been disappointed with it. I’m probably not in the main demographic for this bag – but for photography, location scouting and general outdoor admin work it does the job better than any other MOLLE bag I own or have used.
This review sample was supplied by Military 1st. You can read our policy on gear reviews here.
First Tactical Tactix 1-Day Plus Specifications:
• Capacity: 38.8 litres (2368 cu in)
• Overall number of pockets: 9 external, 22 internal
• Large main compartment with two-way zip closure, soft loop back panel lining, two side sleeve pockets, two zipped pockets, two hook-and-loop detachable zipped mesh pouches and bottom drainage
• Front two-way zipped admin compartment with multiple inner sleeves, zipped pocket, detachable O-Ring metal carabiner, key holder, ID panel, and two zipped outer pockets with inner sleeves
• Large zipped utility pocket above admin compartment
• Concealed CCW compatible zipped pocket with internal loop field for holsters
• Zipped top pocket with soft lining suitable for sunglasses or sensitive electronics
• Zipped bottom pocket suitable for optional rain cover
• Top and bottom accessible zipped Hook and Hang Thru System with inner sleeve pockets and metal attachment points designed for carrying oversized tactical gear
• Accessible from the top and fully removable internal backboard stay secured with hook-and-loop may be used as splint, shovel or paddle
• Heavily padded back section with waist strap attachment points
• Quick release shoulder straps with HD spacer mesh, dual density foam padding, fully adjustable chest strap, MOLLE webbing, hook-and-loop section and multiple loops
• Front and side Lynx Laser Cut Platform compatible with traditional MOLLE and PALS systems
• Two front loop panels for ID’s, badges or other tactical attachments
• Two reinforced heavy duty top carry handles, and two elasticated side carry handles
• Repositionable and removable quick release compression straps
• Bottom Nylon loops for optional attachments
• Genuine YKK zippers with glove friendly zip pulls on main compartments
• Heavy duty Duraflex hardware accessories
• Water resistant construction
• Material: 500D and 1000D Nylon
• Main compartment: 12″x19″x8″ (30.5cmx48.3cmx20.3cm)
• Back Hook and Hang Thru Pocket: 12″x19″x1″ (30.5cmx48.3cmx2.5cm)
• Weight: 1890g